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UN Historic Statement on Native Rights Amid Objections

September 15, 2007

UN Adopts Historic Statement on Native Rights

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 13 (OneWorld) – Despite strong objections from the United States and some of its allies, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution Thursday calling for the recognition of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and control over their lands and resources.

The adoption of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples comes after 22 years of diplomatic negotiations at the United Nations involving its member states, international civil society groups, and representatives of the world’s aboriginal communities.

The United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand stood alone in voting against the resolution. The nations that neither supported nor objected were Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia, Samoa, and Ukraine.

“If a few states do not accept the declaration, then it would be a reflection on them rather than the document,” said Les Malezer, an aboriginal leader from Australia, before the resolution was presented to the General Assembly.

Before the vote many indigenous leaders accused the United States and Canada of pressuring economically weak and vulnerable nations to reject calls for the Declaration’s adoption. Initially, some African countries were also reluctant to vote in favor, but later changed their position after the indigenous leadership accepted their demand to introduce certain amendments in the text.

“The 13th of September 2007 will be remembered as an international human rights day for the indigenous peoples of the world,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chairperson of the Permanent Forum, in an emotional tone filled with joy.

“The entire wealth of the United States, Canada, and other so-called modern states is built on the poverty and human rights violations of their indigenous peoples,” said Manuel. “The international community needs to understand how hypocritical Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States are.”

This is a monumental occasion for humans. Long overdue recognition of the injustice that has prevailed throughout history. Nations who invade other nations must first subdue, then disenfranchise, then destroy the culture they found. This is but a first tiny step toward acknowledging a crime hasbeen committed. What happens next will be slow. Arrogance and greed are formidable institutions supported by aggressive psychology and belief in superior military equals entitlement. Collateral damage is justifiable in this sad mental state. Global mental health has fallen too far below human, unless we have redefined human as destruction of the peaceful just because they are vulnerable


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